My friend Bob Mintzer is an amazingly talented man. A superb saxophonist, composer, arranger, leader of his own smokin’ Big Band, a two-decade member of the Yellowjackets, and for the past three years, a Professor of Jazz Studies at USC’s Thornton School of Music.
His duties at USC also include leading and arranging the Thornton Jazz Orchestra, perhaps the best college big band in the country, as evidenced by their recent win at the Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Competition.
A few weeks ago, the TJO went to the studio for a day (!) to record an album and I joined them to document the session. An added bonus was engineer Bruce Botnick, who also teaches at USC, and his best known for his work with the Doors. Talk about stories.
This first video from session is a portrait of the group, as well as an introduction to the jazz program at USC, easily one of the best in the country, considering its instructors include Mr. Mintzer, Peter Erskine, Alphonso Johnson, Ndugu Chancler, and the department head, pianist Alan Pasqua.
There are some very talented young musicians in the TJO as this, and future videos, demonstrate.